Following their success representing Team USA in capturing the International Club (IC) Junior Challenge Worldwide trophy, JTCC’s team of Ayana Akli, Muhammad Dossani, Trinity Grear and Robin Montgomery continued to make waves in Japan with standout performances at the ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor’s Cup – World Super Junior Tennis Championship and at the ITF Grade 2 Japan Open where Montgomery reached the girls’ singles final and rose more than 350 places in the ITF Junior rankings.
The opportunity to travel to Japan for the JTCC quartet and their coach Taka Bertrand was made possible through the support of the USIC (International Tennis Club of the USA) and the sponsorship of Compass. This was the fourth occasion that JTCC has been selected by the USIC to represent Team USA in the Worldwide Finals after previous trips to Monte Carlo (2016), Wimbledon (2014) and Melbourne (2012).
“These events have offered JTCC players not only outstanding international competition, but also extraordinary cultural experiences giving them a lifetime of memories,” said JTCC CEO Ray Benton.
“JTCC is proud to be associated with the USIC,” Benton continued. “Thanks to the leadership of USIC president Don Tansey and IC Council Executive Committee member Kit Spencer, and the hospitality provided by Mimi Yoshii and the IC of Japan, our players participated in a world-class tournament and had the opportunity to play two additional events in Japan.”
The timing of the IC Challenge finals enabled the group to travel directly to Osaka to participate in the Mayor’s Cup, their first Grade A international tournament experience. Akli, Dossani, and Grear continued their excellent form from the previous week with all three winning two rounds of qualifying to join Montgomery in the main draw.
Akli then sent shockwaves through the field by defeating #5 seed and world #38 Himari Sato from Japan 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round. She continued her stellar play reaching the Round of 16 . Montgomery also caused a string of upsets by beating #10 seed Mananchaya Sawangknew of Thailand and then #6 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia in the second and third rounds, respectively. She eventually fell to the #1 seed in the quarterfinals having scored two victories over top 80 players which will serve her extremely well as she continues to compete at high level ITF events.
Dossani ensured that the boys were not forgotten about producing two outstanding wins including overcoming #16 seed Chang-iu Tsai from Chinese Taipei, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round.
While Akli headed home following Osaka, Dossani, Grear and Montgomery continued to Nagoya to participate in the ITF Grade 2 Japan Open where Montgomery won five matches to reach her first Grade 2 final. This run included defeating three seeded players before a valiant fight in the final where she narrowly lost 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 against the #7 seed Swiss Valentina Ryser. At 14-years-old, Montgomery has climbed from #522 at the start of the trip to a projected ranking of #167 in the Under 18 ITF World Junior standings.
“Our team members worked hard to prepare for this trip,” said coach Bertrand, “and their results speak for themselves. We are very grateful to the IC for providing us with this incredible opportunity.”
The USIC offers international match play for adult players to compete against 39 nations in team competitions. As part of the IC mission to encourage “friendly competition” at the highest levels of play, a bi-annual World Junior Challenge is held with regional qualifying matches.